Hakeem Nicks has been quiet

Colts wide receiver was thought to be an important offseason addition with a lot to prove. But seven games in, he hasn't put up big numbers in an offense that spreads the ball around.

Hakeem Nicks said he would be back. When he returned to his locker Thursday, a reporter approached and the Indianapolis Colts wide receiver departed yet again.

It was the second consecutive day he didn’t answer any media questions.

Question is, will Nicks be there at Heinz Field on Sunday should the Colts really need him at Pittsburgh?

Wide receiver Reggie Wayne has missed the first two days of practice with a sore left elbow. While a magnetic resonance imaging exam didn’t show serious damage and Wayne has assured he will be OK, the speculation is he could sit this one out.

The Colts are deep at wide receiver. And Nicks, who told The Indianapolis Star earlier this month that he still considers himself the NFL’s No. 1 wide receiver, should have every opportunity to offer some proof, even if Wayne plays hurt.

But so far, Nicks is tied for sixth on the Colts with 17 receptions. His 141 receiving yards rank seventh. He does have two TDs.

In fairness to Nicks, who signed a one-year contract to join his old New York Giants buddy Ahmad Bradshaw in Indianapolis, the Colts do spread the ball around. Andrew Luck has completed at least nine passes to nine different targets.

T.Y. Hilton has emerged as Luck’s favorite target with a team-high 47 catches for 711 yards (15.1 yards per catch). In some games, the Colts have substituted rookie Donte Moncrief for Nicks. Moncrief has nine catches for 103 yards.

Considering Nicks’ situation, a 26-year-old receiver looking to parlay his sixth season into a lucrative deal, he’s yet to produce the numbers that would reward him with bigger ones on a contract in the offseason.

The Colts insist he will get his opportunity and he hasn’t expressed anything negative about his lack of touches.

“No, not at all,” offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said Thursday.

When asked about how veterans might be frustrated by the situation, Hamilton said, “No, he's a team player. He's going to have plenty of opportunities to make plays for us.”

Head coach Chuck Pagano said the same a day earlier.

“He’s been outstanding,” Pagano said. “He comes here every day, hard hat on, lunch pail, ready to work. He’s a competitive guy. We’ve got a ton of competitive guys in that locker room and they all want to contribute and they all want to make plays. He understands that, so he’ll be ready. No matter when his number’s called, he’s always ready. He knows his stuff, he practices hard, prepares hard.”

OK, then why the sudden silent treatment with the media?

He’s not the first guy to say he had to lift weights after practice, then not make himself available for an interview. In the past, Nicks has assured he’s being patient, understands it’s a balanced offense, and that he just has to be ready when needed.

Perhaps he just didn’t want to repeat the same thing again.

The Giants decided not to keep him after he caught 56 passes for 896 yards with no scores last season. His best seasons were in 2010, when he caught 79 passes for 1,052 yards and 11 TDs, and in 2011, when he had 76 receptions for 1,192 yards and seven TDs.

Some blamed his fall-off on injuries. He hasn’t missed a game with the Colts. Others in the New York media suggested he wasn’t the same player as before.

Approaching this season’s midway point, it’s fair to say Nicks has yet to show he can be the player he once was, let alone one of the NFL’s best.

But there’s still nine more games, it’s a long season, and perhaps Sunday will be his chance to make a statement.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.


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